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Saturday, August 24, 2013 – Mountain Biking

This was our second time riding the Crystal Mountain Trail #1163, to the top of the Crystal Mountain ski resort.

The first time we rode there was July 31, 2010.  That was one of those picture-perfect days!  The views of Mt Rainier are not to be missed!

Despite having a summer strung together with days and days of clear skies, the weather on this particular Saturday was not so cooperative.  It was raining when we left the house.  At the trailhead it was dry, but cloudy.  We saw initial glimmers of blue sky as we climbed the forest, but by the time we arrived at the top, the fog was thick!  And, Brrrr!!– it was not warm!  Our fingers got cold on the descent.

We drive here via Enumclaw, WA and Hwy 410 (Chinook Pass Hwy), which follows the White River.  Turn off Hwy 410 at Rd #7190 (Crystal Mountain Blvd) and find the trailhead for Crystal Mountain Trail #1163 adjacent to Sand Flat Horse Camp.  It is located about 2 miles short of the the ski resort itself.

This trip is a relatively short, “out-and-back” ride for us.  We turn around at the top of the Mt Rainier Gondola/Summit House.  Note that Trail #1163 does continue down from that highpoint (6872 ft) to intersect with other trails.

In a nutshell, this trail simply goes up and up and up for about 3000 ft.  Consider this climb “interval training” because you won’t stay in your Zone 2.  The tread is basically smooth, with some sections of jagged rocks (not too many) and some sandy patches.  It’s quite rideable throughout.  The descent is screamin’ fast!

CLIMBING THE FOREST–>  Switchbacks through trees and open slide paths of huckleberry bushes.

Ascending forest - August 24, 2013

Ascending forest – August 24, 2013

Ascending forest - August 24, 2013

Ascending forest – August 24, 2013

Forest - July 31, 2010

Blue skies on July 31, 2010

CLIMBING CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN RIDGE–>  At times, the trail hugs a steep sidehill.  It’s not too “airy,” but you do need to focus in couple places.  The trail up the ridge also traverses a wide wildflower meadow.

From the ridge, the BIG view is Mt Rainier.  The White River is quite impressive as well.

Ridge climb - July 31, 2010

Ridge climb – July 31, 2010

Meadow - July 31,2010

Meadow – July 31, 2010

Mt Rainier from Crystal Mountain Ridge - July 31, 2010

Mt Rainier from Crystal Mountain Ridge – July 31, 2010

Eric - July 31, 2010

Eric – July 31, 2010

White River & clouds hiding Mt Rainier - August 24, 2013

White River & clouds hiding Mt Rainier – August 24, 2013

White River & Mt Rainier - July 31, 2010

White River & Mt Rainier – July 31, 2010

Looking east - July 31, 2010

Looking east – July 31, 2010

Elisa - July 31, 2010

Elisa – July 31, 2010

Elisa - July 31, 2010

Elisa – July 31, 2010

ENTERING THE CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN SKI AREA–>  Singletrack trail is replaced by a rocky road on the final uphill traverse to the top of the Mt Rainier Gondola and Summit House.

Chairlift visible - August 24, 2013

Headed toward the Northway Chairlift – August 24, 2013

Aster & Fireweed - August 24, 2013

Aster & Fireweed – August 24, 2013

Eric wearing his #NSNG technical tee - August 24, 2013

Eric wearing his #NSNG technical tee – August 24, 2013

Looking into the ski area - August 24, 2013

Looking into the ski area – August 24, 2013

Crystal Mountain ski area map - August 24, 2013

Crystal Mountain ski area map – August 24, 2013

THE TOP–> Views of fog!

Mt Rainier Gondola & the top of the Rainier Express chair - August 24, 2013

Mt Rainier Gondola & the top of the Rainier Express chair – August 24, 2013

You can pay $20 to ride the gondola.  It was crowded!

If you don’t want to power yourself to the top, you can pay $20 to ride the gondola.

Here is a link to the Crystal Mountain Summer Map.  Note that this map calls the north section of the Crystal Mountain Trail #1163, “Northway Trail.”

—————————————

TRIP STATS:  (Using the Bike Tracks App for iPhone)

  • Total Distance = 11.6 miles
  • Total Vertical = 5991 ft (climb 3053 ft, descend 2938 ft)
  • Elevation = 6849 ft highest, 3818 ft lowest
  • Time = 3 hrs, 39 min (start 11:10 AM, finish 2:46 PM)

MAPS USED:

FOOD CONSUMED ON TRAIL:

  • Water + 1 SaltStick
  • We didn’t even eat one huckleberry although the bushes were packed!

Little Mountain Park Trails, Mt Vernon – Mountain Biking – October 21, 2012

If you drive on 1-5 near Mt Vernon, Washington, you might pass the “little mountain” on the east side of the highway, without even knowing what delightful trails are up there.

Our first visit to Little Mountain was in September 2009.  At the time, we were still new to mountain biking.  We went to LM just once, to participate in a work party for trail building along the Sidewinder trail.  It was one of those perfect late summer days, when Mt Baker was especially magnificent.  I included some pictures from that day in this set of photos.

Click this link to check out the– still ongoing!– work of Jim “JT” Taylor and the Mount Vernon Trail Builders.  They’ve been busting their butts for years to create such a great community asset.  (Thank you!)  I admit that I feel a little bit guilty that we only helped out the one time.  We’re still on the e-mail notification list, 3 years later.

Today we finally went back.  Our ride took just 2 hours to go up and down all of the “Multi Use” trails.  If you live in Mt Vernon, these trails are an ideal location for your after-work workout.  Who needs those cardio machines at the gym?  For bikes, the singletrack trail surface is generally smooth to somewhat rocky and not too rooty…Very nice!  Today the trail offered an additional, “slickish” layer of multi-colored fall leaves.

We parked at the lot between N. Pamela Street and the Silver Arrow Bowmen Archery Range.  I felt extremely unsettled there, as I empathized with the animals who fall victim to the arrow.  I couldn’t help but think of a certain image that I have in my computer– of a deer shot with an arrow.  The arrow entered at the center of her nose and exited at the back of her right jawbone.  I shudder as I imagine the suffering endured by that animal.  She is not alone.

And– as this vegan’s luck would have it, right from our parked car, I could also see the green building for Andal’s Custom Meats.  Those are the folks who were hired to slaughter Barbara’s Cows.  Ugh.  (Breathe, Elisa.)

Let’s get back on a happy note!  At the end of the ride, we stopped in for wine tasting at Carpenter Creek Winery.  It’s located right across from where we parked.  I recommend the 2011 Signature Series Riesling and the 2009 Viognier.

Now for the pictures.  Try to find…

  • Camano Island, Whidbey Island, Fidalgo Island and the San Juan Islands
  • the Skagit River and Skagit Valley
  • the (distant) Olympic Mountains
  • the City of Mt Vernon
  • Mt Baker
  • Blanchard and Galbraith Mountains

[Click on an image to enlarge and view in a photo gallery]

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

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